Welcome to the first behind-the-scenes post for our little endeavour that is The Quest Inn at the Centre of the Universe.
/WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?
First up, let me bring you up to speed. The Quest Inn at the Centre of the Universe is an ongoing narrative comedy podcast series, but it’s also improvised. That means we know where it’s going in terms of story, but instead of scripts – our talented cast of improvisers make it up on the spot.
For a quick introduction to the series, check out this post here.
All caught up? Good.
I started writing these bloggy post things primarily for my own archival purposes (that is to help the old memory, which is beyond terrible if I don’t write things down) and also to help anyone else that might be thinking of making a show of their own – for that reason I’ll try to be as informative as possible when it comes to what I use and how we do things. As a result, these posts are as much about you as they are about us.
If at any time you have a question, comment or suggestion, go ahead and add it to the comments below – we want to hear from you!
Also, these posts were originally intended as exclusive content on our Patreon page, but it soon became apparent that I didn’t have the energy to do these in real-time to meet any kind of reward-based deadline, so I figured I’d just share them here in my own time instead. Because of this, you might find references to Patreon all over the place. Forgive me for going on about it – I’m not trying that hard to sell this to you (as much as it might appear otherwise).
So, here we go:
This first post doesn’t have much in the way of photos because I didn’t know I was going to do this when we recorded the episode.
“But why,” you ask. “Didn’t you start the Patreon at the same time as the new season?”
The answer is yes, but we started recording episodes about six months before I even thought about Patreon as a thing we could do.
As the episodes progress, you’ll start to see more pictures – but until then, it’s going to be a little text-heavy. I think it’s from about episode 32 that we really start committing to the idea of photos and how to do this in the most engaging way for you.
That said, we’re still not quite sure. Like all good projects this one will continue to evolve, and with your help, become the best damned thing it can be for everyone involved.
/PREPARING FOR A NEW SEASON
I guess the first thing you should know is that, as previously mentioned, we don’t record these episodes in the week before we release them – or necessarily in chronological order.
“But it’s improv!” you say, “how do you keep continuity?” The answer to that is careful planning (so many episode notes!) and a knack for thinking on the fly – something that Beau, Indiana and Tom bring to their performances with incredible finesse.
So yes, chronological order is not necessarily how we do this, and the reason is mostly to do with scheduling. Sometimes we want a specific guest (or three!) in the one place at the one time. “Like herding cats” is an expression that, I’m convinced, was invented to describe attempting to get actors to co-ordinate schedules.
Prior to commencing the new season, the four of us got together for a brainstorm session about where we might want to go with season 2 in terms of story. The first season was loosely planned and narrative arcs developed from week to week as we got to know our characters. This time around, however, we felt it might take a little pressure off all of us if we planned what would happen from episode to episode.
With the exception of Deja vu (which follows the script of episode 01), each episode has a narrative arc with major plot points – the improv element kicks in when we press record to discover how our characters will get from point to point.
/MAKING DEJA VU
Title: Deja Vu
Recorded: 12pm, 21st December 2018
Location: Library at the Dock Recording Studio
Deja Vu was the second episode recorded in the season and the first of three episodes (plus additional content) recorded that day. It was the first time in months that the whole team were back in the studio together playing the characters of the Quest Inn crew, but it felt like no time had passed at all.
Perhaps following a script helped, but everyone eased perfectly into their characters and I feel this episode works perfectly as an introductory episode to new listeners.
Why did we choose to follow the first episode from season 1 so closely? Well, to begin with, we thought it would be funny to mess with listeners – but the thought grew into the prison recreation simulation idea (spoilers!). I feel that with the reveal at the end of the episode, this flippant premise really came into its own as part of the ongoing story.
The idea of gradually hinting to the listener that not everything in this episode is as it first appears with audio effects was an appealing concept to me that came with its own challenges. I chose to reflect this concept with glitch sounds and white noise.
The challenge with using glitches in the episode was to introduce them in a subtle way that felt random, but also to make them appear to be part of the show – and not just artifacts of a bad recording. I’m not sure how successful I was with this, but I enjoyed the process nonetheless.
Another fun element was introducing the “Lawless” theme at the end of the episode. It’s just me playing around with a steel slide on an electric guitar – again, not perfect – and if I have the opportunity to re-record it, I think I will.
In terms of making the show feel a little more like a full package from episode to episode, one of my goals for this season is to introduce more incidental music. Don’t worry, I get better at it as we progress.
Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom! I hope this format works and that it was easy enough for you to get all the way to the end.
Remember, this is for you – so let me know what works, what doesn’t, and what might be missing.
Catch you for the next instalment.
If you enjoy reading these reflective pieces (or listening to the podcast itself) and want to help us out, please consider supporting us on Patreon.